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My First Blog Post

Perspective

The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not upon our circumstances. -Martha Washington

This is the first post on my blog but it has been years in the making. I started a blog several times over the last few years but I never followed through. Writing and life are my passions and I wanted to combine my experiences and thoughts and love of life into something that could be shared, mostly for myself, but also with the hope that something I might write would help someone, bring a smile to their face, or at least give them something to think about that might bring about positive change. I never followed through because I always told myself that there were a million other people writing the same type of blog and decided it wasn’t worth my time. Those decisions are a life lesson in themselves because anything we do that is with good intention is more than worthwhile and I truly believe good brings about good. But that is not what brought me back to creating my blog. Yesterday I was confronted with memories that I try to avoid. I have dealt with the trauma of the events that happened in my past and I have made my peace with them but I was not prepared for the events of the day that would bring so many memories flooding back and I definitely wasn’t prepared for the emotional response I would have. And that response and the journey of emotions I went on, led me back to a place of great perspective and consciousness and I woke up today wanting to share my thoughts and emotions and feelings… And that has lead me here. To the blog post I wanted to create years ago but walked away from. I am grateful for the journey. Grateful for the past that has led me here. And grateful beyond words for my present. I hope my journey brings something to your life. Thank you for taking the time to share in it with me.

Perspective from Yesterday

I have finally decided after 45 years that life is full of struggles and difficult moments that we wish we could erase and sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. But sometimes we look back with regret knowing we could have done something. And that, I believe, is the most difficult to deal with. The pain of knowing that you didn’t do right, didn’t do what you should have, were unkind, or maybe decided to put yourself first over someone else that needed you. That is what I was faced with yesterday. I didn’t do right by my older daughter who will be 29 next month. She doesn’t speak to me and hasn’t for years. She was my life while I was raising her and on top of being her mom, she was my best friend. We did everything together and I truly believed our relationship would stay that way for the rest of our lives. I never imagined my life without her and could not have handled it if I had. Flash forward to present day and I have been without her in my life for the past 10 years. The first couple years I thought I was going to die. I didn’t think I could go on. But I had a baby, another daughter that needed me, and I refocused. I spent time dealing with the pain, struggling, going to counseling, and eventually making as much peace as I could with my part of the past. I learned to stand strong in the fact that I was then present and open and truly sorry for anything I had done to cause her pain. It wasn’t enough for her and that was her choice. I have learned that we have to forgive ourselves for our wrongs if we have done what we can to make them right. The pain of regret and self punishment is damaging not only to ourselves but to the people that we still have that love us and need us.

I lost sight of that yesterday after I ran into my daughter’s best friend growing up. The shock of seeing her standing in front of me and the whirlwind of emotions that sent me back to a time that we were all together in this life, was traumatizing. I went through all the initial feelings of loss and sadness and hurt and regret I felt back then. It felt like my girl had just walked out of my life all over again. The pain caused me to turn inward. I focused on the hurt and the loss and it overwhelmed me. My husband, who is my best friend, is normally very connected to me and we share everything. His work is in its crazy period and he tends to get overwhelmed and loses focus on what’s important. And I have made my peace with it. He is still the love of my life and my best friend and I am grateful for everything we have. Unfortunately, it wasn’t okay with me yesterday. I lost my perspective and got very upset that he wasn’t more connected, more caring, more attentive. And what followed was a day of negativity between us. Hurt feelings, anger, a lack of friendship, and a loss of connection. I was lost and withdrawing, a bad habit I am working on, and he was angry and pulling away. We went to bed upset. I woke up in the middle of the night and we weren’t curled up with each other the way we normally are. The feelings of the day had mostly passed and I was left lying there next to my best friend and the love of my life, with an emotional wall between us. I curled up with him. He stayed asleep but he grabbed onto my arm and held me close. He let out a happy sigh of contentment and fell back into a deep sleep. I lied there thinking about the events of the day. How I had let something from the past affect my present. How I turned inward and pushed back at the man I share my life with, my best friend. I lost a day that I will never get back and affected the people I love the most. I fell back asleep saddened by my choices of the day, grateful for my life, and full of perspective that I would carry with me the next morning. Perspective that led me here to the blog I wanted to create so many times. So I am grateful. Grateful for the events that led to my new blog. Grateful for the perspective I have been given. And determined to remain that way.

I wish everyone peace and contentment from their wrong doings. Make things as right as you can, turn it over to God, hold onto the lesson you learned so that you never have to live with the same regrets and you always do right by those you love, and forgive yourself. Any less and it will only bring more pain. God didn’t make us perfect but he made us loving and good and that’s more than enough. God bless you today and always. ~Shayne

Taking care of what matters

I wonder sometimes about priorities when it comes to taking care of our “inner circle”. Everyone’s inner circle is different but when it comes down to it, we have to start with ourselves and the one we share our lives with. That’s the foundation and if we don’t start with the foundation, we’re in a lot of trouble. So what has to be done to take care of that shared circle, that space where two people exist together on this crazy journey. Well, there are the basic principles of honesty, kindness, friendship (being best friends hopefully), love, and nurturing. And while there cannot be a strong, amazing relationship without those principles, there’s something that gets missed too often. And that is protecting the circle.

I’ll give an example: A wife comes home from work and tells her husband about a conversation she had with a co-worker. In that conversation they got caught up talking about problems in relationships. The wife shared too much as she was frustrated from an argument she had with her husband that morning. The co-worker replies that she never did like the lady’s husband and she thinks he’s too demanding of the lady’s time. The wife let the comment go. She didn’t say anything. When she told her husband about the conversation, he was rightfully offended. The wife’s response to her husband was that it doesn’t really matter what her co-worker thinks and she doesn’t think he shouldn’t worry too much about it.

Another example, and one that happens TOO OFTEN: A husband talks to his mom about his problems with his wife. (Side note: Men, don’t ever do that!) The mom sides with her son and tells him that she is there for him. The relationship continues that way and, as is true in most in-law relationships, the mother-in-law doesn’t like her son’s wife. The wife tells her husband that he should not be going to his mom with their problems. She also reminds him that his mother isn’t respectful of her or their marriage. The husband responds that his mom is just that way and she doesn’t mean anything by it. He defends how wonderful his mom is. He lets his wife know that everyone loves his mom and that she just doesn’t understand their relationship. He wants his wife to understand “the situation” and not make a big deal out of it.

Both of these situations are detrimental to the marriage. The circle has to be fiercely protected in order for both partners to feel safe. In the first situation, the wife had a responsibility to take care of her husband’s feelings. She should have acknowledged that she should not have brought her co-worker into things while she was upset and that she should have said something to her co-worker when she talked negatively about her husband. Then, she should have told him that she will make it right, and do so. A nice talk with her co-worker saying that she shouldn’t have gotten her involved while she was so upset and that she knows she opened the door for her to make the comments she did but that she isn’t okay with it and she won’t be doing that again. That is taking care of the circle.

The second situation is much more intense and can cause marriages to fall apart. The husband should never go to his mom with problems with his wife. Sometimes mother-in-laws form opinions even if the husband doesn’t involve her though. Either way, if the mother-in-law is allowed to be negative, make negative comments, or be disrespectful, there are going to be problems. The husband defending his mother is an epic fail to no end. No woman wants her husband to defend his mother over her. It’s hurtful, it changes how she sees her husband, and it breaks the circle. On top of that, when the man allows any of that to happen with his mother, he is not setting boundaries which leads to future issues and more breaks in the circle. Not saying anything to his mother is as bad as agreeing with her. Eventually all of those breaks add up and there is no reparation.

It seems to me that too many times people tend to jump to the defense of others outside of the circle, leaving the one they share their life with hurt and unprotected. Not everyone does this of course. I have known people who defend their circle with everything they are. And they have happy, healthy relationships with their partner who is also their best friend. That’s because they know that the person they are sharing their life with is where things begin and end. That the person you share everything with, you go to bed with at night, you make future plans with, you grow old with, is priority above all else. In the end, it really doesn’t make sense to be any other way does it?

Letting go…

Sometimes I think too much, and envy people who don’t.

Sometimes, most the time, I am really emotional, and at times, envy people who aren’t.

Sometimes, I forget to breathe, to slow down, to let go… and envy people who can… breathe, slow down, and let go.

Sometimes I work like there is no tomorrow… Live like there is no tomorrow… Connect with the people I love like there is no tomorrow. And, at times, I envy people who don’t live the same way.

Most of the time, I dance like no one is watching, I sing like no one is listening, I love like I have never been hurt… and sometimes it brings about a lot more hurt… and I envy people who don’t love in the same way.

Most of the time, I put the people I love first. I find myself in their eyes, in their laughter, in their happiness, and at times… I envy people who don’t love the same way.

I live openly and honestly and love with everything I am and… I WILL NEVER REGRET IT. That is what makes me who I am. Through all the happiness, pain, laughter, and tears, it is everything to me. The people I love, are… EVERYTHING to me.

Thank you to the amazing people in my world who make me who I am. I am ‘me’ because of you. And I will ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL.

Selflessness

Definition: concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.

I have spent a lot of time in my life thinking about the act of being selfless. I have heard many times that we should always take care of ourselves first and foremost. That we have to be healthy and good and strong within our own being before we can be good to others. And I completely agree that it is important to take care of self and to be healthy and strong mentally and physically. But I disagree that it has to start that way. In fact, I believe the opposite is true.

My life changed and I began to truly find myself the day I found out that I was pregnant with my second daughter. It all became very clear to me that life was about more than me. That it was time to focus on something more than me. In that moment, I started discovering who I truly was. You see, I believe that we find ourselves when we become about more than self. It’s in the giving of one’s self that living truly begins. It’s what I believe the true definition of loving another is: Giving of yourself in an open, honest, and selfless way.

So, what if we all put ourselves aside when someone we love and care about is hurt, upset, angry, frustrated, or simply wants to talk about their day? What if we decided that any negative feelings in those moments were secondary and our selfish thoughts were pushed aside? Would we wish we had been more self absorbed? Would we regret having given of ourselves in a way that was not about us? It will never happen. I can promise you that. I have never wished I had been less kind or less selfless. In fact, I have always felt good about myself. Even when deep down I didn’t feel the person was in the right or that they really deserved my patience. (Even if I really wanted to throw the flaming arrows.) I have always felt good about my times of selflessness.

After years of thought on the idea of being selfless, I have come to this conclusion… It is right and it is good because it is the way of God (or whatever positive energy you believe in). God’s love is not self absorbed. It is kind and patient and about something more. It’s the definition of selflessness and I have come to realize that is the reason we find our way and who we are by stepping outside of ourselves… Because if we can’t find ourselves in the light of God, where can we?

Together…

I want to wake up to see you smiling at me and feel the contentment of us.

I want to know that you are with me in the good times and the bad,

that we stand together through it all with strength, love, and commitment that is unwavering.

I wish the little things would drift away and leave you,

the perspective and appreciation of the good taking over leaving the other feelings in a place of non-existence.

I want to see you smile and laugh and know that I make you happy.

When I hurt or I feel uncertainty or frustration,

I wish I would feel your hand on mine and your friendship and love would hold me.

I wish the reality that we only have this moment,

that this life is passing us by without our consent,

would grab you and hold you tightly and never let you go.

And that you would see clearly what we have

and who I am to you.

I wish for you to ‘see’ me always.

To hear me when I speak

regardless of ‘how’ you hear me.

I wish you would turn to me with your frustrations and not take them out on me.

That we could be us in moments that aren’t your favorite,

that don’t elate you,

and you could find perspective and happiness in us.

And mostly… That you could see that I am on the other end of your feelings.

If you could pull toward me,

Communicate with me,

Know that I am there,

That you affect me.

And that it doesn’t have to be so hard,

and it wouldn’t be if we were doing it together.

And I wish so much that it could be seen as good,

and happiness could be found,

because we are doing it together.

I wish you would smile and listen when she talks and love when she frustrates.

To ‘see’ her and be kind even when it doesn’t suit you.

I wish we could be happy and be us.

But it takes two.

I will love, and listen, and stay until I have nothing left…

Because I see you and hear you and love you with everything I am.

We feel…How we feel.

We have all heard the saying, “time heals all wounds” and that, “all good things come in time”. I disagree. I think we are much more complex than the simplicity of those sayings. I spent time with one of my clients today who lost her husband a year ago. Time has not healed her wounds. She is learning how to cope. Slowly. One step at a time. And at times, two steps back. She is lost and being pulled in several directions by friends who mean well, but aren’t truly thinking of her. I listened to her tell me about how she has started counseling. How she spends the weekends doing activities with her friends that tell her she needs to move on with her life only to wake up Monday morning in tears, exhausted, and lost emotionally. I listened and thought about my own heartaches, stressful times, and emotional pain. About how many times I have been told how I should feel or even more so, how I shouldn’t feel. I felt compelled to help my client in the best way that I could. I told her that first of all, NO ONE is in her shoes. Period. Others have gone through similar situations but she is the one and only her. She is the only one who has walked her path and that means her feelings are hers alone. And because of that, no one knows the answer for her. I reminded her to listen to her heart and her body. To do what is right for her. Whatever that is.

I also told her that it might not ever truly get better. (I know that sounds horrible but that statement comforted me more than just about any other when I was going through a really painful situation.) Someone told me they didn’t know if I would ever get past the pain and they were sorry for what I was going through. That statement gave me permission to be sad, and angry, and lost. I felt like it was okay to be broken. And IT IS OKAY to be broken. It’s okay to feel WHATEVER we feel. There are no “rights” or “wrongs”. This life is beautiful and amazing but it is also hard and painful and confusing and almost unbearable at times. We are complex beings with intense emotions and deep thought processes, which is an incredible thing, but it also makes things intense. Especially during times of loss, or severe stress, or painful emotional situations.

So how can we be better friends, partners, husbands, wives, and parents to the people we love that are going through a difficult time? Love them. Listen. Hear them. Don’t hear them from our point of view. It’s not about “us” when we are the listener. Truly listen with an open mind to what they are telling us. We have to be able to put our own judgement and feelings aside. We have to be able to embrace the ones we love with kindness and empathy. We have to understand their feelings are their own. And understand that is what is right for them. And it’s okay. Even if it’s not how we would feel.

If nothing else, I have learned one thing that I know with 100% certainty: Do not tell the person you care about that it will be okay. We want it to be okay for the people we love but they deserve to feel how they feel. Let’s allow them that.

Reality

I wondered when I started this blog how much of myself I would share. Like everyone else, I have many different facets. And, although I truly believe that this life is beautiful and amazing and every moment is a gift from God, I also know how completely screwed up this life can be and how difficult it is not to scream and throw things and have a nervous breakdown at times. (LOL) I’m not really kidding. I would love to scream and throw things right now. It really all comes down to perspective though, which I wrote about in a previous blog post. And, I get it. I truly do. With perspective we can keep our feet on the ground, see the good, be patient and loving, and do what is right for ourselves and the people we love. But… there are times… when it all seems like it’s just too much… and you’re angry… and you want to tell perspective to kiss your #*!&*. It’s not that you don’t ‘see’ what’s right and what’s good. Deep down we always know. So when is it okay to say screw it, I’m angry and that’s how I am going to be. It’s never fair to the people around us who love us. Especially if they didn’t do anything to us. But maybe they did. Does that make it right, then? No. Sometimes I wish it did. I was only partially kidding about the desire to throw flaming arrows at people. (Mentioned in a previous post). (I can’t write about the flaming arrows without touching on the fact that a long conversation ensued after my daughter read that comment. Apparently wanting to throw arrows at people is okay but flaming arrows is a line crosser. After a lot of conversation and several points being exchanged, I have come to my daughter’s side of things and agree that the flaming arrow is a little too extreme. So, non-fiery arrows it is.) But in all seriousness, anger doesn’t solve anything if we hold onto it. And unfortunately throwing arrows, fiery or not, doesn’t count as not holding onto our anger. We have to use it in a productive way to make change. And that is what I usually do with my anger. I use it to make change. To make things better so that I don’t have to go to that same place ever again. Or at least know that I did what I could not to go to that same place again. It’s not easy sometimes but it is the right thing to do. It’s productive and good, and at the end of the day, I feel good about myself. I did what was right for me and the people I love. So, now I should start letting go of the anger I’m dealing with and work on making change. That is what I hoped would come from writing this post. Perspective. A desire to use my anger to make change. It didn’t work. I know it will. I will come around. But for now, I’m sticking with the arrows and honestly, I’m sorry Ryver (my daughter that I had the discussion with), the flaming ones are looking really good. 😉

May we all be blessed with the life we deserve.

and perhaps what made her beautiful was not her appearance or what she achieved, but in her love and in her courage, and her audacity to believe: no matter the darkness around her, Light ran wild within her, and that was the way she came alive, and it showed up in everything. -morgan harper nichols

Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option. – Mark Twain

I am too full of life to be half loved. – Ijeoma Umebinyuo

A man that knows of your sadness and sleeps.. Doesn’t deserve your love at all. .. -unknown

“It’s amazing how someone can break your heart and you can still love them with all the little pieces.” -Ella Harper

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” – Mother Teresa

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. That’s what I hope to give you forever.” – The Notebook

“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it.” – Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle

“When we are in love we seem to ourselves quite different from what we were before.” – Blaise Pascal

“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

“It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.’” – Erich Fromm

“You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” – Dr. Seuss

May all of our realities be better than our dreams. Wishing everyone love and happiness. ~Shayne

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” -Sophocles

What do you want to remember about today?

I went to bed angry last night. My husband heard me crying in my sleep in the middle of the night and woke me from a bad dream that I was having. This morning I woke up feeling: angry, sad, calm, content and unsettled at the same time, irritated, and kind of happy. I guess there are two ways to look at that. Positive: I woke up connected to my feelings and open to them. Negative: I woke up a disaster of emotions. Or maybe there’s a third option… Maybe it’s some of both the positive and the negative. Regardless, I was not in the greatest place mentally with all of the different emotions hitting me. Pretty quickly my thoughts went to, ” I want to go write a blog post.” Which followed with, “What do I want to write about?” And the whirlwind continued. I wanted to write about the things that make me angry. Then I thought that I wanted to write about the things that make me sad… hurt… happy… content… Did I mention I woke up a disaster of emotions? My head was spinning, my thoughts were all over the place, and I started to fell stressed about something that I was really looking forward to and thought would be a great release for me.

I sat down at my computer, stared at my laptop screen and took a deep breath. I started to feel a little more settled and the thought that came to me was: What do I want to remember about today? Which instantly started to erase a lot of the negativity I had woken up with. Because, that is how I live my life… What do I want to remember about today? What do I want to take with me when I leave this world? What do I want the people I love to think and most importantly, feel, when they think of me? When I lie my head on my pillow tonight, am I okay with the things I did today? Those thoughts, those questions, are how I live my life. They are the better part of what makes me who I am. I don’t have control over anyone else. Their thoughts and emotions and subsequent actions are their own. Whether they are good and amazing, or mean and hurtful, is not my choice. What I do have control over is me. I can’t control everything I think or feel. None of us can. But I can absolutely control what I do with those feelings and thoughts. And usually I choose to do what will make me feel good about myself. Not only does it make me happy and a better person, it is what is right for the people around me that I love with everything I am. Other times, I fail. I get angry. I react. I get self focused and don’t care how it affects the people I love. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. And it sucks! It sucks for them and it really sucks for me because the bottom line is: negativity brings about more negativity. And feeling badly about yourself is only going to bring about more negativity. It’s a viscous cycle. So today, I will do what makes me feel good about me. I will do what is right for the people I love. And, when I go to bed tonight, one of the things I will remember about today is: I did good. And that’s a fantastic thing to remember about the day!

I will finish this post with one of my favorite sayings. It’s short and direct but powerful. If we would all follow it’s direction, this world would be a much better place.

When you’re out there in the world today:

“Do good, shut up, and go home.”

*See my next blog post for my thoughts on this saying. 🙂 -Coming Soon

It’s not that difficult. Really!

I love my life which is pretty obvious from the title of my blog. I smile and laugh a lot. I’m a happy, loving person who believes in doing good. I give 110% of myself to my family and I am rewarded with their love and it means the world to me. I’m also real and get hurt and don’t like it when people are jerks. In fact, it really upsets me and I have to work really hard to maintain perspective to keep from attacking back when someone is being rude or mean. I have a strong personality. I believe right is right and wrong is wrong. And, I don’t like the wrongs. And, I’m pretty opinionated about it. (Just ask my family. Or anyone who has been on the receiving end of me not being willing to take the ‘wrongdoing’ anymore.) LOL The truth is, I don’t get it. Why is it so hard to be nice? Why do some people find it so difficult not to put themselves first? Are we really that selfish by nature as human beings or is it something we learn growing up? I believe most of our negative behaviors come from our childhood and from poor parenting. I wish everyone had a stable, loving, nurturing environment to grow up in. But, that isn’t reality, and regardless of how bad it was for us, at some point we have to grow up. We have to take responsibility for who we are because our actions are a choice. We all get frustrated, tired, hurt, sad, and angry. All of us. It’s what we do with it that matters.

So the next time you’re grumpy, try not to take it out on the people that love you. Staying in a loving place emotionally will probably take your grumpy mood away a lot faster than being unkind.

The next time someone you care about has a problem with you, listen with an open heart. “Hear” them and put yourself aside. Pride and ego are not your friends. The person who cares enough to be hurt by you or have a problem with something you have done to them, is.

The next time you’re feeling angry, remember, it won’t stay that way whatever it is. Time will pass. Things will change. It’s inevitable. Breathe and know that it’s only a moment.

The next time you’re sad, cry. It is powerful and physically and emotionally healing. And, it’s okay. For all of us. Men and women. Holding our feelings in will only bring more negativity. Let go and free yourself.

The next time you’re hurt by someone else, tell them. If they love you, the will listen and make things right. If they don’t, it’s their loss and you will have done what is right for you. We live in a society that has taught us to be “strong” and we are afraid to feel what we feel. We are afraid to say what is right for us. Life is too short to live that way. Of course, we don’t have to complain about every little thing and we don’t have to throw flaming arrows at everyone who hurts us. (Although sometimes flaming arrows would be great, right!?!) We can say how we feel though. And as friends and people who love us, the other person has an emotional responsibility to truly hear us and make things right. Even if they weren’t technically “wrong”, they should still love us enough to ”hear” us and take care of us emotionally. It’s not that hard.

It’s about being about more than ourselves. Even when there’s something upsetting us, or we don’t agree, or we are in a bad mood, we need to be about more than ourselves. Breathe, listen, keep perspective and be kind. It’s not that difficult. REALLY!

What and who God really is. (Not a religious post.) LOL

I grew up in a Baptist church. A true to tale hellfire and brimstone Baptist church. I remember sitting under the pews chewing gum and playing with my gum wrapper; folding it, crumpling it up, straightening it out, making shapes with it. It took my mind off the preacher yelling about, well, everything. He loved to yell about how much God loved us and even more he loved to yell about how many sins there were and how much punishment there was for committing any of those sins. It was terrifying. The other day I heard somebody say something that I have heard a thousand times but this time it caught me off guard and it got me thinking and led to this blog post. It was one of those catch phrases you hear often but don’t really think about. Someone said that something had, “Scared the hell out of them.” As many times as I have heard that said, it’s never occurred to me how wrong it is. Having the hell scared out of me would be a welcome thing because that baptist minister screaming about what would happen if I sinned and my parents reconfirming every time I asked if it was true, literally ‘scared the hell into me’. I spent years trying to recover from the damage that had been done to me. I was a sensitive, trusting, good little girl. Being told that hell was like touching a hot stove and I would feel the burn over my entire body for all eternity and then being told that if I sinned that’s where I would spend eternity, was mortifying. I grew up thinking every little thing I did that wasn’t perfect would send me to the flaming hell that haunted me in my waking and sleeping hours. Years of research, learning, and growing emotionally, and here I am 45 years old, and no longer in fear of hell. Not in the same sense. I still believe in hell. It’s around us every day. Children with illnesses, loved ones leaving us, people committing horrific acts of violence… It’s hell. Right here on earth. It doesn’t get worse. And, I no longer fear God. The God I know is loving, good, kind, and the source of everything that is right in this world.

My spiritual beliefs are my own and I would never push them on anyone. I do struggle with people being so confined to the religious box. Many people need rules and guidelines to do what is right but I wish it didn’t take fear to bring the good about. We all know what is good and right and have everything we need inside of us to do those things. As I said, God is the source of everything good and we are full of God’s light and love. Or Buddha’s light and love. Or the light and love we get from each other. Or from ancient spirits. It really doesn’t matter what we call it. Love is love and at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the day, it’s the love that brings about everything that is right and good. It’s love that makes us beautiful, kind people. It’s love that makes everything that is wrong with this world right. It’s love that fills us and love is what we will take with us when we go. Love is not cruel or punishing or angry. Love will not send me to a fiery eternal hell. And that’s what God is. By whatever name you want to call him, her, or it. God is love. And there’s nothing scary about that. I guess you could say I have had the hell scared out of me. And I couldn’t be more grateful.